Showing posts with label Clarence River. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clarence River. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 October 2020

CLARENCE RIVER CATCHMENT 2020: a culturally, economically, environmentally & socially harmful number of mining applications are in the process of getting the nod from the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government

Caring for the Clarence from Nathan Oldfield on Vimeo.

Of particular concern to council and the wider valley community is the yet to be completed Mole River dam in Tenterfield shire which has previously been mooted as a holding dam for the diversion of Clarence River catchment water elsewhere by Clarence water first being sent into the Upper Mole River.

That brings to three the number of companies currently undertaking exploration mining in the Clarence Valley. 

Given that the number of exploration licenses applied for or granted in the Clarence River catchment area have grown rapidly in 2020, the level of concern for the headwaters of so many rivers and creeks in also rising in Clarence Valley communities.

 IMAGE: Clarence Catchment Alliance

Needless to say the NSW Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, former surveyor, property developer and operations manager with a Qld resources/mining consultancy firm, thinks this map is just fine and dandy - nothing to see hear, move along.


Clarence Valley Council submission to Inquiry into the rationale for, and impacts of, new dams and other water infrastructure in NSW, dated 22 September 2020 at:

Ms. Debrah Novak (Clarence Valley councillor) submission to Inquiry into the rationale for, and impacts of, new dams and other water infrastructure in NSW, dated 21 September 2020 at:

Clarence Environment Centre submission to Inquiry into the rationale for, and impacts of, new dams and other water infrastructure in NSW, dated 12 September 2020 at:

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Old Harwood Bridge opening for vessels now formalised to provide certainty for road travellers

New Harwood Bridge across the Clarence River with older Harwood Bridge directly behind IMAGE:

Clarence Valley Independent
, 2 September 2020:

The new Pacific Highway crossing of the Clarence River at Harwood has prompted the regulation of opening times for the original Harwood Bridge.

Transport for NSW Director Region North Anna Zycki said this will allow the community to plan trips around the times the old bridge is open, allowing vessels to pass through and reduce delays experienced by road users.

The original Harwood Bridge is a two-lane steel truss bridge which carried the Pacific Highway over the Clarence River from 1966 until late last year, when the new four-lane bridge opened,” Ms Zycki said.

The original bridge has been kept to maintain access to the local road network including Harwood and Chatsworth Islands.

Formalising the opening times is the next step in providing residents with more certainty about using the old bridge.”

Bridge openings for vessels will not be scheduled between 7am and 10am and between 2pm and 5pm Monday to Friday. This will not apply in times of flooding.

Special consideration will be given to commercial operators to open the bridge and will be managed on a case by case basis for these vessels.

While the bridge is opened for vessels there is no access for vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists.

Skippers are required to contact Harwood Bridge caretaker on 0412 604 748 between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday to book an opening time 24 hours in advance.

For further information and advice, please visit

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW App, visit or call 132 701.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Finally good sense prevails over the proposed rezoning of rural land on Palmers Island

Yamba Welding & Engineering Pty Ltd has experienced a set back to its plans to establish a second boat building business in the Clarence River estuary - this time on land in School's Road, Palmers Island.

Founder and managing director Bill Collingburn has stated he will continue pushing for acceptance of his developemnt application - by which I presume he means he intends to begin trotting down to Sydney again to bend the ears of relevant state government ministers.

I'm sure objectors to the creation of a industrial working waterfront on the island will be watching closely.

The Daily Examiner, 14 May 2020:

Department firm on Palmers Island decision 

The possibility of boat building on Palmers Island was diminished further yesterday as the planning department plotted the possible course for industry expansion. 

 The Department of Planning Industry and Environment has responded to questions following its decision to reject a Yamba Welding and Engineering plan to rezone a section of Palmers Island for boat building. 

DPIE suggested it was unlikely an amended plan would be considered. “The Department recognises the high importance of marine-based industries to Clarence Valley’s local economy and has encouraged the proponent to work collaboratively with (the) council and the state agencies to identify an appropriate location to support the growth of both the proponent’s business and the local boat-building industry,” a spokesperson said. 

“If an appropriate location can be identified and is consistent with local and regional strategy, the proponent may lodge a new planning proposal with (the) council for their consideration and if (the) council support it they will need to seek a Gateway Determination from the Department for it to proceed.” 

The department also reiterated the reasons for rejecting the plan, highlighting it was inconsistent with state and local government plans and strategies. 

 “Following a rigorous assessment process, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will not rezone 11.7ha of rural land for a marine-based industry at Palmers Island,” the spokesperson said. 

“It was determined that the proposal does not fit with the approach to develop a cluster of local industry, as advocated by the Clarence Valley Council’s Industrial Lands Strategy (2007).“It also contradicts Direction 11 of the North Coast Regional Plan 2036, which aims to protect and enhance productive agricultural lands.”

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Topsoil loss during 2020 flooding in the Clarence Valley

The Daily Examiner, 9 March 2020:

Anyone travelling around the recent flood-affected areas of the Valley, including along the Clarence River itself, couldn’t fail to notice the chocolate brown colour of those floodwaters.

The Orara River was particularly bad, and after the floodwaters had receded, council needed to use a front end loader to scrape thick layers of deposited mud off some roadways and bridges. The paddocks alongside creeks were likewise buried beneath a thick layer of mud.

This was always to be expected if torrential rain occurred soon after the bushfires, especially with ash washing off the bare ground into waterways.

But these floods brought more than ash. This was topsoil, something that is in short supply across much of the Australian continent. We are told that globally, some 24 billion tonnes of topsoil are lost annually through erosion, and Australia’s contribution is shameful, given we are a supposedly developed country with sufficient resources to protect this precious commodity.

Wind and water are the two main forms of erosion.

Both can be significantly mitigated simply by maintaining a good vegetation ground cover. Without that cover there is nothing to hold the soil, and this past season has highlighted that fact.

Firstly there was drought, and overgrazing to the point where only bare soil remained, resulting in one huge dust storm after another for months on end.

Then the bushfires destroyed what vegetation the livestock had left. Then came the floods, ripping apart fragile unprotected stream banks, and washing them downstream to the ocean.

Even without bushfires we lose far too much soil to erosion, and again, poor livestock management is largely to blame.

Many Australian rivers and creeks have no adequate vegetation to buffer against erosion and fewer still are fenced to exclude cattle.

As a result, these animals congregate along waterways, trampling banks, and browsing any available vegetation, so their impact is even greater than fire.

Landowners have a responsibility to manage erosion on their properties and to consider what they are leaving for future generations. If we are to solve the erosion problem, livestock management must be a focus point.

JOHN EDWARDS, Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Boral Concrete at Maclean in NSW does the wrong thing and gets caught rehanded, fined $15,000

On 15 October 2019 a  member of the public alerted the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (NSW EPA) to the fact that cement slurry was being discharged into the Clarence River by Boral Concrete (part of the multinational Boral Limited group).

It is not known how long such discharges had been occurring before this environmental vandalism had been discovered.

Google Earth image of Boral Concrete by @pilligapush

, media release, 27 February 2020: 

NSW North Coast concrete plant fined $15,000 for water pollution incident 

A North Coast concrete batching plant that allegedly discharged cement slurry into a drain that flows to the Clarence River has been fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). 

A complaint from a member of the public alerted the EPA to the discharge from the Boral Resources (Country) Pty Ltd plant on the outskirts of Maclean, in the Clarence Valley region, on 15 October 2019. 

The EPA alleges that poor environmental management practices at the plant contributed to the discharge. 

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Regional North Karen Marler said the slurry appeared to have been discharging from the Boral plant for some time prior to 15 October 2019. 

“The EPA issued a Clean Up Notice that ordered Boral to take immediate actions to prevent the continuing escape of this material and to remove the slurry discharge from the stormwater drain to prevent further impacts,” Ms Marler said. 

“Subsequent EPA inspections confirm the clean-up and the actions taken to improve plant operation were effective.” 

The $15,000 Penalty Notice for pollution of waters is a reminder to all companies of the importance of monitoring internal systems and carrying out regular checks to prevent environmental incidents. 

Ms Marler said that community members play a vital role in preventing environmental harm. 

Reports of pollution can be made to the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555. 

Fines are just one of the ways the EPA can enforce compliance. The EPA can also use formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. 

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at

This is not the first time Boral has been fined in Australia.

In 2019 the company was fined $15,000 for cement dust pollution at its plant in New Berrima, NSW; in 2016 it was fined $15,000 for excessive fluoride emissions on the NSW Central Coast; and in 2009 it was fined $5,500 for dumping concrete slurry on land in Numurkah, Victoria.

As Boral Resources it was also fined $15,000 for water pollution at its site at Marulan, NSW.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Page One Images of the Week

The Daily Examiner, 17 January 2020:

Upper Clarence ecosytem buckling under stress of drought and bushfire.

The images of the river are from the Tabulam area, near Clarence River Wilderness Lodge.

The dead fish are from BIg Fish Flat, an area known for the protected eastern freshwater cod now only found in this river and commonly known as Clarence River Cod.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

THE REALITY OF ECOCIDE: a truth thread from the NSW Northern Rivers. If you read nothing else between now and New Year 2020 read this

This is not an easy read. It may upset you. It will frighten you by the time its import sinks in.

It speaks both lived experience and brutal truth. 

Truth which we ignore at our peril.

Mecurius Goldstein, on Twitter, 19 December 2019:

Ecocide: A thread
Bearing witness at Wytaliba NSW, these photos are a response to the neverending know-it-all 💩 from armchair experts since the #NSWfires started in September.
6 weeks and 3 inches of rain later, this is a riverbed.

Here's a creek into the Mann, a tributary of the Clarence River NSW. We're +40 days and there's been rain, but nothing here is coming back. I've had to put up with endless smug woo-woo from online dipshits saying everything would be lovely again in 6 weeks after rain. Well look:

What's happening now. These roos didn't starve, they died from drinking the toxic run-off from rain. The river is full of tar, basically the ashes of hell. Our local Greens group has donated a large % of our funds to food for 65 joeys under wildlife care, but the water is toxic.

What the insta-expert smug online pricks don't get is that in fact, no, these fires aren't "good for the environment", they don't make the forests thrive, there's nothing here but the smell of death. No food, no water, no going back. 6 weeks and after rain, all is still.

A belting flash-flood came through here the last week. There's nothing to hold the water, nothing to stop it churning tonnes of toxic shit downstream. This will all eventually end up going past Grafton NSW. Gravity is like that.

And as for the sanctimonious scapegoating delusions about hazard reduction and back-burning, sit down and listen: Behind those hills a massive back-burn was instigated in September by authorised agencies, thousands of hectares. Made shit-all difference.

Also get this. In September one of those lovely slow-burning ground fires came from the top of that ridge in the back and devoured all the fuel over 3 days it took to travel 800 metres. They're supposed to help but again doesn't make a difference when a crown-fire comes through.

So this whole area that had slow-burnt at ground level in September for days on end, then explosively burnt in November in 15 minutes flat. Smug armchair fuckos think that "burning" will save us from disasters, but they're wrong and they don't know what they're talking about.

Here's but a small patch of the whole perimeter where we did a fun weekend's raking leaves in September. Whole place went up like a torch come November. The ridge in front had been hazard-burned the previous season less than 12 months prior. Do you see now? It doesn't help.

I repeat: Everything you see here had been slow-burnt at ground level not two months before the crown fire came through. Just like the textbook recommends. Just like all the scapegoaters and victim-blamers howl. Not even the large trees survived. We're +6 weeks, and it's over.

Today I realised something important about the scapegoaters and victim-blamers. They're weak and scared. They want to believe this isn't their future, because they would do it differently. They would hazard-burn and back-burn. They would be RFS. Well, that's no escape I'm afraid.

Because this is all our futures if we stay inert, complacent, inactive & disengaged. We need the natural world a great deal more than it needs us, and right now we are being forcibly ejected. Deniers won't turn back until it's too late, will you let them take you down with them?

Humans can survive just about anything, but we can't survive ecocide. It's happened in this community and it will soon happen in yours, unless you take action to stop it. I wonder if you will?

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Valley Watch Inc: the idea that water can be diverted from one river system to another is flawed

The Daily Examiner, letter to the editor, 8 November 2019, p.9:

Water diversion lesson seemingly unlearnt
The issue of water availability for agriculture and communities has been a hot topic this year and the diversion of water from the Clarence River to areas west of the range is again to the forefront.
The idea that water can be diverted from one river system to another is flawed. Commentary on the mismanagement of the Murray-Darling has been with us for the last decade. Have we learnt nothing from that?
Originally water licences were attached to the land and passed with the land when land was sold. Subsequently water licences were separated from the land and could be sold on the open market. This entitled those who acquired large water allocations to collect and store large amounts of water.
We have seen the Upper Darling sucked dry, leaving little water for downstream farmers or the wildlife. The ensuing ecological catastrophe is a national disaster.
This brings us back to the Clarence. It makes no sense to tamper with this complex estuary by diverting water from it. One could argue that floodwater is wasted running out to sea, however flood is a natural phenomenon. Floods provide fertile soils, richer harvests, healthier forests and habitats for a variety of fish and wildlife.
Only the large corporate operators will benefit. It won’t be the small landowners or fishers who most need it.
What the Clarence Valley offers is a natural environment that underpins our tourism, fishing and agricultural industries. We urge politicians and local council to look at long-term and sustainable management of this wonderful waterway.
Graeme Granleese,
Valley Watch Inc.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Clarence Catchment Alliance is hosting a petition opposing water diversion from Clarence River catchment & mining in the upper river

The Daily Examiner, 31 October 2019, p. 9:

In 2017 I solo kayaked the Clarence River from its source near Stanthorpe in the Great Dividing Range to where it empties into the sea of my lifelong home at Yamba. A couple of months ago I tried to do it again, and I couldn’t. It won’t surprise you to hear, that there’s just no water in the river.
Around the same time I learned there were 18 exploratory mining licences active in our headwaters and that drilling quietly begun some 18 months ago.
I also learned that there was at least one serious environmental breach of one of these licences, resulting in a stop work order and a $300,000 fine.
I also learned that talks of damming our headwaters had been revived by western municipalities. When I heard these things, I wanted to find out more.
I caught up with my childhood friend and lifelong valley local, ex world championship tour surfer turned high-performance coach and Patagonia ambassador Daniel Ross, and together we set out to learn more about these potential threats to our home.
We went on a journey upriver to the source of the Clarence, all around the proposed mining areas, speaking to indigenous Elders and locals all along the river, to see these issues through their eyes.
We learned of the fish kills associated with mining from the old copper mine at Cangai, how the Eastern Cod (which only exists in two places in the world - the Clarence and Richmond River catchments) was nearly completely wiped out by these practices. We learned how it was nursed back from the brink to enjoying a thriving population today, and we struggled to understand why consideration would be given to returning to these practices on an even broader scale. We perceived first-hand the proximity of these sites, on these incredibly steep ridge lines, angling down to the river and its tributaries, and failed to comprehend how mining could possibly be achieved safely.
The more we learn, the keener we are to understand the future plans for our valley, and the safest and best solutions for its strategic management so its splendours can be enjoyed for generations to come.
We are strongly of the heart that the risks from mining along the Clarence, the lifeblood of our valley, are too impossibly high to take, and that these risks cannot fit the profile of a healthy future.
If you agree, the Clarence Catchment Alliance is hosting a petition that our State MP Chris Gulaptis has said he will table in parliament if 10,000 signatures are garnered. The petition is available to sign in local businesses all across the Valley, or available online to download, print, sign, and return to the address on the petition.
Dan Ross and Hayley Talbot
Image: Clarence Valley Independent

Clarence Independent
, 25 September 2019:
Dan Ross and Hayley Talbot are amid producing a documentary about the Clarence River – towards that end they have already interviewed Toowoomba’s mayor, Paul Antonio, who is also the chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors, which has applied to Infrastructure Australia to pipe water from the Clarence River “to Tenterfield Shire Council and Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba Regional councils”. Mr Ross and Ms Talbot gave a talk about the significance of Clarence River, maintaining its health and “how it affects all of us from the headwaters to the mouth”. “It’s not a ‘green’ thing, it’s commonsense,” Ms Talbot told those gathered at the Valley Watch tent at the Yamba River Market on Sunday, “sharing knowledge and getting the message out there.” 
Clarence Catchment Alliance’s Facebook page at  

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Alan Jones gets told

Short and sweet.......

The Daily Telegraph, letters to the editor, 31 October 2019p.24:

Going against the flow 
Once again the master statistical manipulator Alan Jones has shot himself in the foot with ignorant claims about the annual water outflow of the Clarence River in northern NSW. As a riverside resident for the past 15 years I’d like to inform Mr Jones that there has been no five million megalitre per annum flows since March 2013 and for the past three years you can straddle the river with both feet upstream of Copmanhurst without getting wet.
Brian Gane, Grafton

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a second boat-building yard in the Clarence River estuary must come from the NSW Berejiklian Government

The Daily Examiner, 26 October 2019, p.3: 

Approval for a controversial rezoning that could allow a boat-building yard for Palmers Island must come from the State Government. 

At its Tuesday meeting, Clarence Valley Council voted in support of a motion that effectively washed its hands of making any recommendations, handing decision-making for the proposal which has split the local community to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. 

Boat-building firm Yamba Welding and Engineering has applied to have a 20ha block of land in School Rd, Palmers Island, rezoned from rural to industrial usage. Company owner Bill Collingburn said expanding his operation to Palmers Island would allow him to triple the size of his operation. 

The community has flooded the council with 183 submissions (131 against and 52 for) and two petitions – one with 689 signatures supporting the proposal and another with 445 names against it..... 

Instead of following a staff recommendation on the handover, which referenced legal advice which could have ruled the planning proposal invalid, Cr Andrew Baker sought to be “neutral”, with a wide-ranging motion covering what the council had done to date on the matter. 

Deputy Mayor Jason Kingsley successfully amended the motion, to make it more neutral. 

This was not enough for some of the residents. 

Resident Peter Sutton said the attempt to be “neutral” was misleading. “Cr Baker has twisted words and included issues that are no longer valid,” Mr Sutton said. 

But Mr Collingburn was pleased to see the council take an even-handed approach. 

“It’s just people squealing,” he said. “You talk to most people and they want to see jobs and growth in the region.”

Administrative staff advice before Clarence Valley councillors on 22 October 2019 included the following:

183 submissions were received. This included two petitions and four submissions from Government Agencies including an objection to the loss of primary agricultural land from Department of Primary Industries. The submissions have been assessed by an external planning consultant (Planning Resolutions) to provide independent advice. The consultant has provided a summary report of matters raised in the submissions and a summary of the key issues at Attachment B. 

The report by Planning Resolutions concluded that: ‘The support for the Planning Proposal is almost entirely and simply support of the business/boat building industry rather than supporting a change in zoning for this particular site. The submissions objecting to the Planning Proposal provide compelling evidence as to the adverse site impacts and comprehensively dispel the reasons put forward by the proponent for not locating the business on Harwood Island. Council has completed a proper strategic planning process that establishes Harwood Island as a suitable Marine Precinct’. [my yellow highlighting]

Council has been advised by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces that it is not the local plan-making authority for this Planning Proposal and has no legal power to determine this application. 

Two separate legal advices confirm that the Planning Proposal in its current form is in conflict with State Environmental Planning Policy 55 - Remediation of Land due to a tractor storage area on the property being a potentially contaminated site. Whilst this matter is resolvable, a rezoning may not be considered in any form when such conflict with a state policy exists. Therefore on this issue alone the Planning Proposal is likely to not proceed.

It is noted that on or about 3 April 2019 Council was in receipt of Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel Gateway Review Advice Report which found among other things that: "The zoned land at Harwood is not practically available for the proposed use due to land ownership, access limitations, and operational requirements of the planning proposal".

It is further noted that there is an existing marine precinct relatively close by at Harwood Slipway.

Over the years Yamba Welding and Engineering has met with NSW government ministers on a number of occasions in pursuit of its business expansion.

As recently as 18 June 2019 the company, along with Nationals MP for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, met with the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade John Barilaro concerning its development plans in the Clarence Valley.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

"Over my dead body": Nationals MP Hogan rejects Clarence River water diversion proposals

The Daily Examiner, 21 October 2019, p.3:

Page MP Kevin Hogan has weighed into the water debate, saying any diversion inland would be “over my dead body”.
With the long-debated issue of diversion has been gathering interest, the Nationals MP said he did not support any plans to put dams on the headwaters of the Clarence River system.
“Every study on a dam and diversion of waters from the Clarence River inland, has shown it to be economically and environmentally unfeasible,” Mr Hogan said.
“In fact, a diversion of water from the Clarence River inland would be over my dead body.”
Water shortages in northern NSW and southern Queensland have led a number of councils to call for an investigation into redirecting water from the Clarence as their dams come close to running empty.
Mr Hogan’s comments came as an increasing number of farmers call for long-term strategies to deal with the effects of drought and his National Party colleague Barnaby Joyce told those struggling to consider leaving the land.
Mr Joyce said those who had failed to make a profit in 10 years should consider their position after 200 farmers lost the $36,000 annual Farm Household Allowance.
While Mr Hogan would not be drawn on whether he agreed with the comments expressed by Mr Joyce, he said “we need to remain flexible” and pointed out how the Federal Government had been altering the allowance since its inception....
He said the changes to the allowance, introduced to Parliament last week, would help provide drought relief to those who had exhausted their four years on the FHA. “We have announced a lump sum payment as people roll off the Farm Household Allowance; $13,000 for couples and $7500 for singles,” he said. “The Bill will also make it easier for more farmers to access the payment by lifting the amount families can earn off-farm to $100,000 a year; and allow farmers to count income from agistment against their losses.”

Friday, 18 October 2019

Morrison Government accidentally tells us more than it intended about its future plans for more dams?

Eighteen pages of 'talking points' compiled by the Prime Minister's Office were accidentally released to Australian journalists on Monday 14 October 2019.

These talking points predictably blame Labor in a look-over-there-not here manner, continue Scott Morrison's personal war on the poor and vulnerable and refuse to look climate change in the eye.

Interestingly for folks in the NSW Northern Rivers region, these points confirm federal government support for abandoning certain federal/state provisions contained in legislation covering water, environment and biodiversity when it comes to building new dams.

The document also lets the cat of the bag when it reveals a wider purpose behind building a Mole River dam in Tenterfield Shire.

Google Earth snapshot of a section of the Mole River, NSW

The current proposal according the PMO is for a 100,000 megalites dam (basically the size of Karangi Dam in Coffs Habour LGA) which Morrison & Co see as assisting not just Tenterfield Shire but also as potentially useful to southern Queensland (See P.4). Morrison expects this dam to be 'shovel ready' two years from now, in 2021.

Water NSW released an Upper Mole River Dam fact sheet at the same time those errant talking points escaped inot the wild. This has the proposed Mole River dam as between 100 and 200 gigalites (ie., between 100,000 to 200,000 megalitres) and costing est. $355 billion. However, Water NSW does not see this proposed dam being 'shovel ready' until 2024 with dam construction completed sometime between 2026 and 2028.

Morrison's 100,000 megalitre dam would be ample to supply the needs of a NSW shire whose total population is yet to reach 7,000 residents, but is perhaps not entirely adequate to cover the needs of local irrigators into a future which is rapidly heating up and drying out.

So why would this such dam be thought capable of supplying water to southern Queensland and where would the potential additional 100,000 come from?

Water NSW data shows that Mole River catchment annual rainfall was less than 600mm in 13 of the last 18 years and, as Professor Quentin Grafton, water economist, ANU and UNESCO Chair in Water Economics and Transboundary Water Governance tells us, at 600mm or less annual precipitation a dam will not fill.

Perhaps the Mole River dam is only meant as a water storage staging post as much of the water capacity is intended to travel elsewhere?

Perhaps Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud are paving the way for a raid on a headwater tributary, the Maryland River, or on the Upper Clarence River itself - in order to forever pipe bulk water to Littleproud's electorate of Maranoa in southern Queensland?

Two local governments in Littleproud's electorate are lobbying hard for permission to pipe Clarence River water to their areas and, after all the Mole River is approximately 79kms as the crow flies from the headwaters of the Clarence River as well as less than 57kms in a direct line from Stanthorpe in Maranoa.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

The real reasons behind the push to dam and divert water from the Clarence River catchment

Whenever local government areas within the Murray-Darling Basin decide to renew their almost perpetual lobbying of federal and state governments for consent to dam and divert one or more rivers within the Clarence River catchment they usually have a hidden agenda accompanying their public call for fresh water for inland towns during times of water scarcity.
It has never been about needing water for towns which might run out of water by late 2020. Any new dam couldn’t even be ‘shovel ready’ in less than two to three years, while rushing construction would take a similar time period to complete and filling a dam would take more than three years on top of that – if it could be achieved at all in an Australian climate which has been drying for the last sixty years.
What these councils are really seeking is the means to grow their own local businesses and expand their own regional economies at the expense of Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour City current and future businesses and regional economies.
One of the mayors openly states that “water is the new currency” - echoing that other sentiment doing the rounds, ‘water is the new gold’.
Take these latest water raiding schemes……….
According to Daily News in Warwick Qld, Southern Downs Council has a wish list for growth; Councillor Marika McNichol said the council had a wish list of significant infrastructure projects that would shape, steer and secure the region’s future.“This is an ambitious list of projects, but also a list of essential infrastructure projects that will benefit our region and build a sustainable future for the Southern Downs,” Cr McNichol said.“Council has a strong long-term vision for the region which involves major infrastructure projects.”
On its own website this council stated; “Southern Downs Regional Mayor, Tracy Dobie said a number of exciting projects in the Southern Downs were due to commence or be completed, creating employment opportunities, encouraging population growth and stimulating strong economic activity,”
One of those proposed major infrastructure projects to allow economic expansion in this particular local government areas is a “Pipeline diversion of water from the Clarence River in NSW to Tenterfield, Southern Downs, Western Downs and Toowoomba”. This proposal is being submitted to Infrastruture Australia seeking funding to progress the interbasin-interstate water transfer scheme.

Access to water is seen as a key economic driver by Western Downs Regional Council. This includes being a driver of industry and business development as well as optimising tourism growth in the local government area.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio told a journalist that; water is the limiting factor in population growth and food production in this area”. His letter of support for the application to Infrastructure Australia for a dam in the Clarence River catchment reads in part; As chair of Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors … I write to give the strongest of support to your council’s submission to the Australian Infrastructure Audit regarding long-term water security on the Darling Downs and NSW Border Ranges.”

Tenterfield Shire Council’s mayor told The Daily Examiner in Grafton NSW; “I have no problem supporting populations to support industry, but you cannot do it without infrastructure to secure water. These towns need to be supported, and especially where they are looking to expand. (Towns like) Warwick and Toowoomba should have had adequate water supply years ago and now we are playing catch up.” [my yellow highlighting]

Tenterfield Shire Council as part of the Northern New England High Country Regional Economic Development Strategy 2018-2022 supports the position that; “There is potential to dam both the Mole River in the western part of the Region and possibly one or more of the headwater tributaries of the Clarence River for irrigation water and the generation of hydroelectricity.”

Tenterfield’s Mole River proposal was tentatively costed sometime in the 1990s on the basis that private capital would build this dam and lease it back to either local or state government. The current proposal for a Mole River dam (20-40 per cent smaller than the original proposed water storage) is an initial 50/50 split between state and federal government.


The NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government’s State Infrastructure Strategy 2018-2038 points to a need to Identify investment options in the priority catchments of Gwydir and Macquarie”.

Gwydir Shire Council in its Gwydir Shire Economic Development Strategy 2017-2020 states an aim to; Manage water resources for a growing economy and environmental sustainability” as well as to improve/expand the Shire’s product base which includes the tourism potential of the Gwydir River and Copeton Dam.

The river and dam are seen as part of providing a Strong basis for growing the tourism sector and building visitation to the Shire’s towns and villages” - as well as being seen as “lifestyle advantages of the Shire.”

The development strategy also sees “access to plentiful water” as a prerequisite to growing local businesses and establishing new ones.

Seeing water as a mere commodity these Murray-Darling Basin councils and the federal government are pressuring the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government to such a degree that it is now considering altering planning and water legislation to allow NSW Water to have planning control over dam building and also allowing environmental safeguards to be overridden – in particular removing environmental/biodiversity assessments of proposed dam sites and potentially commencing construction before a cost-benefit analysis has been completed.